Cat Insulin Management

Cat insulin is necessary for pets that are suffering from diabetes. There are two types of diabetes that commonly occur in cats. Type 1 diabetes is caused when the pancreas don't produce sufficient insulin required by the body. Type 2 diabetes occurs in fewer pets and exists when the body is unable to adequately utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas.

Symptoms of Feline Diabetes Mellitus

  • Increased hunger
  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Poor skin
  • Dull hair

Diagnosing Diabetes in Cats

In order to determine treatment options, it's necessary to attain a proper diagnosis to rule out pancreatitis, urinary tract infections and underlying health complications. A serum biochemical analysis and abdominal x-rays are essential diagnostic aids. The vet will also note down the cat's medical history and perform a physical examination.


If feline diabetes is not regulated with medication a condition known as ketoacidosis develops which can eventually cause a medical emergency. Ketones are by-products of fatty acids that are broken down and then eliminated by the body. An excess build up of ketones causes ketoacidosis which in turn stresses the cat's body especially when accompanied by diabetes.

Insulin Treatment

The amount and frequency of insulin administration is based on the severity of disease. Most diabetic pets may be given insulin injections once or twice a day. The vet will also conduct a glucose profile test to check the cat's response to initial insulin treatment. Since individual pets differ in their response to insulin, the dosage has to be adjusted to prevent insulin overdose which causes low blood sugar.

Glucose Profile

Pets may have to be hospitalized to conduct a blood glucose profile. A sample of the cat's blood will be initially taken to note down the blood glucose level. After administration of insulin injections, the cat's blood is checked periodically to determine the effect of insulin on blood glucose. Most pets respond positively to the treatment although the blood glucose levels should be carefully monitored for the first week. Vets also recommend purchasing a glucometer that enables care takers to check pet blood glucose levels at home. It's important to check blood glucose and not urine glucose as blood glucose gives an exact reading of the pet's glucose levels at the time of testing.

Sources of Insulin

Insulin is derived from a variety of sources such as genetically engineered bacteria. In addition protamine zinc (PZI) or isophane (NPH) are commonly prescribed long acting insulin injections. PZI is derived from pork or beef and used as veterinary insulin since its molecular structure is similar to cat insulin.

Duration of Insulin Treatment

Pets suffering from Type 1 diabetes mellitus require lifelong insulin treatment as the pancreas fail to produce sufficient insulin, while pets suffering from Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet and initial medication. Cats that suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis require prompt and intensive medical help. Most pets with ketoacidosis need IV fluids along with careful insulin treatment.

Alternative Medication

Another alternative to insulin therapy is hypoglycemic medication known as Glipizide. This medication is generally prescribed to diabetic pets that have no underlying complications. The medication is preferable as it's available in oral form. However pets that don't show progress after oral medication require insulin therapy.

Pet owners need to constantly care for cats suffering from diabetes. It's important to routinely check blood glucose levels and administer insulin on time.